PARE LORENTZ: ATER
THE FIGHT FOR LIFE
By Dr. Robert J. Snyder, Associate Professor
Department of Communication Technologies
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
© 2005 Robert J. Snyder. Prepared
for Heritage Productions for use
on this web site and reprinted here with permission.
Post World War II
Shortly after receiving his discharge
in 1945 Pare Lorentz reentered government service as Chief
of Films, Theater and Music in the Civil Affairs Division,
U. S. War Department, for the occupied countries in Europe.
Part of their responsibility was to residents of these countries
for return to their pre-war occupations.
General Lucius Clay proposed to the Allied
Control Commission, meeting in Berlin in 1946, that the
four Allied powers pool all films of the International
Tribunal and make a full-length documentary of the Nuremberg
war crimes trial, using footage of the actual trial. Combat
and atrocity footage that was used in evidence during
the trial was also discussed for inclusion in the film.
The Allied powers agreed that the United States should
produce the film. With no experienced motion picture people
available to work on the film, the task fell to Lorentz.
Lorentz decided that the film be organized
according to the four charges brought against the Nazi
leadership during the Nuremberg trial: war crimes, crimes
against peace, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy.
The first version of the film was approved for screening
for the German people. It was prepared with a German soundtrack.
Reaction to the film by the German public and newspapers
was very positive. According to Lorentz, the Army of Occupation
put representatives in plain clothes in cafes and trinkhauses
in the vicinity of the theatres showing the film to gage
Lorentz resigned his government post and
returned to the United States. The battle with the War
Department and the State Department began. The film needed
additional editing as a rough cut was shown to the German
people. It also needed an English soundtrack. Changes
in the film had been recommended by Justice Robert Jackson,
one of the prosecutor’s at Nuremberg, and by Lorentz's
successor in Germany, Brig. Gen. McClure, and others,
but these were not carried out. A special screening was
held in New York for an invited audience of writers and
critics, including William L. Shirer, John Gunther and
Dorothy Thompson. According to Lorentz, only one critic
reviewed the film for his paper. The pressure generated
by these writers had little effect. Although the Army
did announce that 16mm prints would be available from
U. S. Signal Corps film libraries, the film was not seen
by the American general public until 1961 when the Army
granted approval for the film to be included in the television
series “Lorentz on Film,” produced by WGBH-TV
in Boston, MA.
Lorentz created Pare Lorentz Associates,
Inc. in 947, in part to get NUREMBERG released. He
made several bids to the Army to produce a satisfactory
film for release to the American public at his own risk.
The Army did not accept any of these bids. He tried to
raise funding for other motion picture projects but was
The Washington Post sent him
to Geneva, Switzerland in 1955 to serve as a special correspondent
covering the first United Nations Conference on the Peaceful
Uses of the Atom. Much of his time subsequently was devoted
to developing an outline and script on the dangers of
atomic fallout, and on atomic energy. However, no one
was interested in supporting a filmmaker of Lorentz '
s reputation in making such a film.
There was a brief entry into the world
of politics in 1960. He was appointed a member of the
Democratic Advisory Council on Natural Resources. In this
capacity he, along with author Rachel Carson (Silent
Spring), wrote the pollution platform for the Democratic
Lorentz was approached by staff at WGBH-TV,
Boston, MA, to assist them in making a 4-part program
on his work. An initial meeting was held with the production
staff in April with taping set for June, 1961. The last
part was the presentation of NUREMBERG. This program series
was distributed nationally by NET.